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James Goodwin | August 10, 2022

Op-Ed: Information Justice Offers Stronger Clean Air Protections to Fenceline Communities

After more than 50 years, the Clean Air Act is due for an upgrade to account for changing circumstances. We can now recognize how the law is insufficiently attentive to the realities of structural racism and systemic disparities in environmental protections. Polluters have exacerbated these problems by weaponizing uncertainty to oppose stronger protections for those who need them most. In speaking to both challenges, the Public Health Air Quality Act would help ensure that the Clean Air Act is well positioned to continue serving the American people for the next 50 years.

James Goodwin | July 27, 2022

Op-Ed: Manchin and the Supreme Court Told Biden to Modernize Regulatory Review — Will He Listen?

The Biden administration’s path forward on climate change -- as the widely deployed metaphor goes -- has become more difficult with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia vs. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If the Biden administration is to successfully navigate that path -- and it must if we are to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis -- the president will need to abandon the “compass” that his predecessors have relied on for decades to guide their policy agenda: Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review.

James Goodwin, Shelley Welton | June 29, 2022

The Revelator Op-Ed: Regulators Have a Big Chance to Advance Energy Equity

These days, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can no longer be described as a technocratic, under-the-radar agency that sets policies on energy infrastructure and market rules, rates, and standards. As energy policy has become front-page news, FERC has begun updating its regulations to meet new exigencies. The agency has taken big steps to support affordability and a transition to cleaner energy, including proposing updates to the way it permits natural gas pipelines and beginning to overhaul how regions plan and pay for the expansion of electricity transmission infrastructure. These moves have provoked controversy because their stakes are high: Billions of dollars of infrastructure expenditures are on the table. What gets built, who pays, who hosts this infrastructure, and who makes those decisions also have major implications for equity and racial justice.

James Goodwin | June 23, 2022

Member Scholar Buzbee Leads Congressional Amicus in Crucial Supreme Court Clean Water Act Case

Any high school student can tell you that water follows the path of least resistance. A similar rule might be said to apply to corporate polluters and small government ideologues who now see the federal judiciary -- especially a U.S. Supreme Court stocked with Trump-era judicial activists -- as the path of least resistance in pursuing their agenda of the "deconstruction of the administrative state." The first case they have teed up for the October session of oral arguments is Sackett v. EPA, which the Court could use to gut the Clean Water Act.

James Goodwin | April 27, 2022

New Report: Democratizing Our Regulatory System Is More Important Than Ever. Can FERC Lead the Way?

Few policy questions have a more profound impact on our day-to-lives than how we produce, transport, and use energy. Whether it's a fight against the siting of a polluting natural gas facility in a historically Black community, the catastrophic failure of an electric grid following a winter storm, foreign wars causing price shocks that further hollow out the fixed incomes of America's older adults, or an abiding concern over leaving our grandchildren a habitable climate — all these issues and more make energy policy a central concern for the public. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — which oversees much of the country's energy infrastructure and helps set rules, rates, and standards for energy markets — is undertaking new efforts to level the playing field. A new Center for Progressive Reform report examines one of these efforts: the establishment of the Office of Public Participation (OPP). After decades of delay, FERC finally began setting up the office this past year.

James Goodwin | March 29, 2022

Safeguarding the Right to Vote Through a Strong Regulatory System

The regulatory system, contrary to the claims of its conservative critics, is an indispensable part of the broader civic infrastructure on which our democracy is built. Significantly, the ability to exercise voting rights -- the most visible and potent act of civic engagement -- necessitates a stronger and more inclusive regulatory system.

James Goodwin | February 10, 2022

Washington Monthly Op-Ed: Regulatory Government Is Democratic Government

The regulatory system is quite literally democracy in action, as it invites and empowers members of the public to work with their government to implement policies to keep our drinking water free of contaminants, ensure that the food on store shelves is safe to eat, prevent crooked banks from cheating customers, and much, much more.

James Goodwin, Minor Sinclair | December 2, 2021

Strengthening the 4th Branch of Government

Over the last four decades, small government ideologues have waged a coordinated attack against government. The strategy has paid off: Public approval ratings of all three branches of government are at all-time lows. Nevertheless, the federal government still manages to get things done on a day-to-day basis, and that is primarily due to the so-called 4th branch of government — the administrative and regulatory state that employs 2 million workers, invests trillions of dollars each year on things like air pollution monitoring and cutting-edge clean energy research, and makes rules that protect us all.

James Goodwin | October 14, 2021

A Post-Neoliberal Regulatory Analysis for a Post-Neoliberal World

Over the last 40 years, the U.S. regulatory system has played an increasingly influential role in redefining our political and economic relationships in fundamentally neoliberal terms. A key but often overlooked institutional force behind this development is the peculiar form of cost-benefit analysis that now predominates in regulatory practice. Building a new regulatory system befitting our vision of a post-neoliberal America requires a formal rejection of prevailing cost-benefit analysis in favor of a radically different approach -- one that invites public participation, permits open and fair contestation of competing values at the heart of policy debates, and recognizes and honors our social interdependencies.